Dear Diary... October 2017

Tuesday 31st October - Hunted With A Cold

The cold that I've had is, sadly, really remaining dormant and not shifting one bit. I've been coughing and spluttering most of the time and if not doing that, I've then been off to the loo to have a blow of the nose in private and hoping that some of the crap would shift out of me. To be honest, it's not attractive nor is it really what I want, but I'm hoping that it would shift for the weekend and then be able to make the most of that. It is really preventing me from thinking as clearly as I'd like though, and a little grumpy.

I did stay up tonight (well a little anyway) to watch the final episode of Celebrity Hunted. After the capture of Anneka Rice last week, it was down to the final four, Jay and Siva from The Wanted, and Spencer and Jamie from Made in Chelsea. It was a case of the Hunters working out some of their moves, although Jay and Siva through a network of fans had remained mostly off grid for most of the time - that was till someone decided to get a selfie and then post it online, which the Hunters were straight on the case of.

In the meantime Jamie and Spencer had managed to just about escape out of a hairdressers salon in a car with the Hunters on chase, and then ended up in Derbyshire, and as their wont would be they managed to stay over at a bed and breakfast that did look pretty nice and posh, pulling the odd favour here and there as they went along. The Hunters did have a hunch they would do that though, and sure enough once they'd found the place in question and a short chase later, it was the both of them captured, and so two were left.

Jay and Siva had managed to get to their friend's place in Bath, but unfortunately they then realised where the extraction point was - in the south of Suffolk. Amazingly they got a lift most of the way, but it was still going to be dramatic as the Hunters had tracked the car's movement, and so were heading off towards where the helicopter was. This did take off before they grounded it, and as Jay and Siva took the boat across to a small island, cycled a bit of the way and then at a fence jumped over and pegged it, the Hunters were on their tail. They did manage to escape though, which made me pleased.

The tune of the day is the iconic theme tune from the series: dark, moody and brooding all in one. And of course the good thing is that there's going to be a third series with normal people next year, which I'm really looking forward to. Hopefully they may have learned from the two winners in the last series how to be able to avoid detection, use a sensible network of people and be able to think fast to get out of some potentially tricky situations. There looked like there were going to be nine individuals though instead of couples, which may make for more fun and games. We shall see.

Monday 30th October - To Infineon and Beyond

So on Friday at work I'd carried out some investigation into a couple of issues related to encryption of laptops and it was a case of finding out what had happened. What I did find out may be of interest to others, so worth reading on and taking some notes along the way. It's all to do with the Infineon TPM chip used by a number of laptop manufacturers over the years, and how that TPM chip has a security flaw that could well be exposed if not careful with how you handle your security. More information from Microsoft is here, do read that first.

Read that? Okay, so here's what it boils down to. Effectively the chip itself is subject to attack because of the way that the firmware is. So, when you have installed your latest cumulative patch for, say, Windows 10, you'll then see a suitable event logged in the event viewer (event 1794) which shows that your TPM chip is prone to vulnerability. You'll see this if you run tpm.msc for the TPM Management Console from within Windows and see the message appear there too.

The next step crucially is to see if your manufacturer has actually issued an update for the TPM itself. HP and Lenovo have, although when I did check for HP devices, not all the laptops we currently have will have an available update. One of the Toshibas we have isn't due for an update till March 2018. Ooh, joy. However, there's a number of remediation steps to take, and you can also if you are able to enable TPM 2.0 on certain chipsets which should help things a bit too.

The firmware updates will be the trickiest bit to handle - it's a TPM firmware update only and not for the BIOS. For the HP firmware executable, you cannot according to HP run this in Windows PE, so don't think you could include that at an earlier stage of the SCCM task sequence when you're effectively pre-preparing Bitlocker whilst still in WinPE before you bring the image down. You may have to think afterwards as to what to do with that, and how you'll also possibly need to clear the TPM and re-activate if you need to do so.

Overall though, it's a fair bit of work to sort out. It does look like though that you can upgrade the firmware with an easy switch, and it's then a case of testing what happens afterwards. I do have some laptops I can fire up and test with, and they will be my most likely ones to have a go at something first before I then look at working out a plan of action. This despite feeling awful due to a cold which for some reason toay is getting progressively worse. Early night for me, I think, and tune of the day is "Sleepwalk" by Ultravox, an 80s classic and certainly not what I want to be doing later..

Sunday 29th October - Sunday Scrabble Sauntering

The clocks going back was a real sense of niceness as for The Love In My Heart and I it meant an extra hour in bed, and a well earned sleep. Admittedly I'd been bunged up with the cold that's been bugging me for the last few days and so wanted to give The Love some more sleep time, so got up, watched the repeat of Match of the Day so I could see Manchester City do the business at West Bromwich Albion, and of course then see the repeat of Hunted from last Tuesday night that I missed whilst at the snooker. I had a feeling Anneka Rice was going to get captured though...

Anyway, The Love woke and I made us some nice breakfast - sausages, egg, mushrooms, bacon, and some chopped tomatoes for The Love too - and some muffins to go with all that. It was a good start to the day, and we then got ourselves all changed and up and ready. It wasn't the best weather outside and with me still feeling a tad bunged up, it was a good idea to stay in and relax with a coffee, and be able to see the Manchester City women's game against Birmingham City and some of the American football from Twickenham, but also play some Scrabble too.

And I have to say, The Love was absolutely brilliant today. She nailed it, and quite honestly, thrashed me! And with some excellent moves too, starting with MAZE (Z on triple letter) for 35, and later on doing FLICKS down the bottom centre for 48, then later on also managing SLICE (C on double letter at the top left) for 30 when there wasn't many letters left. Oh, and another two moves scoring 30+ on top. She took all the chances to make good words and I was really impressed. She's written on the heart shaped blackboard that hangs in the kitchen "I won Scrabble" as a reminder of her impressive win when she's not here. And I hold my hands up!

We also thought about possible destinations for a holiday next year too and did some working out with flights and such like. It's all very well with budget airlines and for a short break where you could get away with one item of hand luggages for 2-3 days that's doable. However, for a week or longer you really do need the larger case and by the time you've added all the extras, you may as well have flown a decent Star Alliance airline, say Lufthansa or TAP Portugal. We've got some ideas going..

Later on it was off to Euston and off to The Crown and Anchor where once again pie was mine, and the beef and amber ale pie is gorgeous as per usual. The Love had the fish and chips which was very crispy and nicely done, which she appreciated. I must admit though that the time had flown by today and I did feel rather sad as we had a massive hug at the station before she headed off home to cuddles from Brian the cat. In the meantime I headed home with a shed load of train delays (no thanks to Southern Fail yet again!) and then off see Lewis Hamilton do enough to win the F1 title for a fourth time.

I have to say I was most unimpressed with the way Sebastian Vettel appeared not to like the fact that Max Verstappen overtook him and then Vettel clearly tried to do his best to take Hamilton out but it backfired. I was willing on Verstappen and Bottas to stay way ahead, and Hamilton getting into the points meant all was good there. It was only right somehow and shows that class will prevail in the end - way to go Lewis. In the the meantime tune of the day is the proper F1 theme "The Chain" for obvious reasons.

Saturday 28th October - Relaxed in Richmond

I was off to IKEA this morning, as I still had the voucher for a free cake and coffee, and as I'd managed to get all the housework done in the flat earlier on, I thought that it was a good time to go and treat myself, especially as the IKEA is a mere three stops down the tram line. One slice of almond cake and a latte was mine, for free, bonus! And later on I had a quick wander round and picked up the Tolerant wok for not that much expense either, the idea being is that I could use that for stir fry stuff should I want to, and made sense to have a bigger pan.

Later on I walked up to East Croydon station where The Love In My Heart was arriving to spend the weekend here. It was lovely to see her as ever of course, and despite having some idiots on the train from Manchester Piccadilly to Euston who clearly could not understand how seat reservations work, it was relatively calm apart from that, and we had a good natter as we walked back to mine, so we could have a spot of lunch (nice posh Taste the Difference Sainsbury's pizza no less) before then heading out later on for the rest of the day.

Lunch was nice, The Love got changed and I was ready to go, and it was off to East Croydon station to first hop on the train to Clapham Junction and from there walk over from Platform 12 to Platform 5 and get the train to Richmond. It was a stopper service but wasn't that bad overall, and soon we were making our way out of the train station and along the main road with the shops. And look in plenty of them we did too including the rather lovely Oliver Bonas, Joy, and Anthropologie which had a bit of a sale on but still wasn't that cheap - but admittedly the items were very lovely indeed.

After a nice pop around some more shops including House of Fraser and also getting tempted by the lovely cakes in the Hummingbird Bakery we walked down towards Richmond Bridge and along the bank of the River Thames. We thought it'd be nice to head to the White Cross Inn which overlooks the river, and managed to get a table seat with a view, and so inside had the Young's Winter Warmer ale at the bar - apparently the only place you can currently get it. It was gorgeous and it was mine, all day long, absolutely lovely it has to be said. It wasn't even that cold really.

We walked back towards the centre of the town, passing by Hummingbird Bakery and picking up a couple of red velvet cakes to have back at home later, and also popping into Joy, where I got The Love one of her Christmas presents. We saw something lovely and she liked it a lot, and I thought "well it'd make perfect sense to get it whilst they have one in your size after all!" and so that was done. I'm pleased as I'd rather get something that I know she will love.

It was on the Overground one stop to Kew Gardens station, and after admiring the lovely little shops in the village close to the station, and also spotting a couple of flats which were surprisingly less expensive than I thought in terms of rental, it was in to the Tap on the Line pub for tea. We've had drinks in here before when we've been to Kew Gardens but never eaten, so we thought "why not?" and had booked a table too. The staff even had the table with my name on, which was good, and service throughout was lovely.

As was the food, I'm very pleased to report. The Love had the burger, and that looked a properly massive home made burger with toppings and some lovely chips. I had the steak ale and mushroom pie with mash, and yes, it was a proper pie! And it was really nice. Even the bowl of greens were buttered nicely and I think even The Love was surprised I had a fair bit. I'd have preferred say heritage carrots and peas, but wasn't complaining. Not least when the sticky toffee pudding was totally lovely, the sauce thick and the ice cream a nice accompaniment. And the Oliver's Island ale was on good form too.

It was all lovely, and we felt sorry to leave, but headed back via Richmond to Clapham Junction, and then back to East Croydon. It was getting a bit colder and windier, so was good to curl up at the nice cosy flat and relax with a bit of telly. I indulged The Love with X Factor, and we had the red velvet cake with coffee which just made the evening lovelier still. It was notable that the original songs resonated with the viewers as Grace Davies was top of the public vote - goes to show that it should have been done years ago to be perfectly honest. In the meantime though tune of the day is "It Only Works Because You're Here" by MJ Hibbett and the Validators - because it pretty much sums up that happiness with The Love - it does work because she's here. Hurrah!

Friday 27th October - Get On Up

Another rather busy Friday, mainly down to some changes I was making and needed them to be done the right way. On a positive note, what this meant was that I was able to get one of the forms sorted out in ServiceNow so that when a purchase of a mobile is selected and is new, it doesn't make the underlying field of mobile number mandatory anymore, as that would often mean an error when attempting to update the ticket later on. Good to get those sort of things sorted out and nailed to be perfectly honest.

I also spent some time this afternoon getting all the implementation on the live instance done whereas when you are able to ensure that all the LDAP AD accounts in one container of deleted users is included in any import run and specification, thereby ensuring that all the necessary accounts are therefore disabled and locked out in the live ServiceNow instance too. It was good that I had documented the process I'd managed to do in the development instance because I had a nice simple guide to follow when getting it all sorted this afternoon.

I had gradually been more bunged up during the day due to a potential bit of a cold coming on - this had been in the offing for a bit of this week and I've been doing my utmost to ward it off - mainly with paracetemol and also now with some cold and flu capsules from Boots. Admittedly there has been a lot of coughing and sneezing on the train on the way to work so it's a case of being able to avoid most of that where possible. The rest of me does feel okay though so will do what I can to be right for the weekend as The Love In My Heart is coming to stay and that will make me feel very happy!

In fact she called me tonight all happy herself as she had taken some time owing this afternoon and had the time off, and so spent some time with Brian the cat. He was more than happy to play outside and sit there watching the people and snaffling any flies that dare go past into his territory. I think since Jô passed away he's become a fair bit more wanting love and attention and will run to the door when The Love gets home from work to get his cuddle - we are realising now that often Jô would steal the limelight a bit here and Brian would always run off. But now he doesn't have to, and just loves to have his tummy tickled too.

Tune of the day in the meantime is "Get On Up" by Volker Meitz from his album "Vertikal". I was reminsicing about his Commodore 64 days when he was the musician PRI, and did lots of ace tunes in demos, notably Coma Light 12 for example. I remember getting the album (signed too) and enjoying this track in particular as it had a nod to his C64 era in the middle. These days he's now part of a five piece and an album is out which you can order via Bandcamp here - massively tempted to myself!

Thursday 26th October - It Only Works Because You're In Croydon

Tonight for me it was the very short walk to The Royal Standard pub - and with good reason. It was one of the Freedom of Expression music nights organised by the ever lovely Jenny Lockyer (check her songs out, she's ace) and as MJ Hibbett just happened to be on the bill, it of course had to be done. I was intrigued to see what Thom Worth would be like too, and so it was nice to be able to literally exit the flat, walk down the road and be at a gig. If only everything was this simple!

I've been in that pub a few times and although relatively small, it is quite cosy and in the Summer they do have a beer garden on the other side of the road (albeit with the Croydon Flyover not so far away) and so it does well in that department. They do also have cask ale too, mainly of course Fullers as you'd expect, but some guest ales too. One of which, the Diamond Geezer ale from the By The Horns brewery was half price on offer, so it was a mere £2.05 a pint. It wasn't a difficult decision, especially as it's a ruby red ale and it did taste very nice too it has to be said.

Mark (MJ) was already there along with Jenny and Thom, so said my hellos and had a good chatter with Mark about all sorts as the bloke in the pub was getting all the sound stuff right, and getting a couple of minutes for the testing of the guitars and vocals to test all was well. So it'd be that they both would do a set each either side of an interval, so nice for variation and also to have you being there longer to enjoy the rest of the show - and technically not a support act as such. I liked that, it was different.

So the first MJ Hibbett set mainly focussed on brand new songs, such as "I'm Doing The Ironing" and "In The Pub (Talking Crap)" as well as one from the last album "That Guy" which I do still enjoy, especially the classic line of comparing One Direction to Chaucer! We did notice some rather shouty people in the pub being a tad over the top and asking the barman for another pint in the most OTT way possible, which was a bit bobbins. It was good though to hear "I Did A Gig In New York" as well, not had that one played for a while so good to have a little smile as I listened intently.

Thom Worth came on and did the first part of his set, and he was also very good too. Nice Fender guitar and lilting vocals that were soft when they needed to be, and a bit more loud as required. From the first part of the set, I really enjoyed "Talk To Me" which had a really nice chorus and a sense of being a warm song to just see the night through, and "Meet Me Tonight" which had some beautiful build up to a really rousing chorus. Liked what I heard, EP is going to get purchased I think!

After a short interval and a chance to get more beer, it was then the second half of MJ's set. He took Thom's lead and sat on a tall chair and played, and he seemed to enjoy that more. And a set of six of my favourite tracks too including my all time favourite "It Only Works Because You're Here" along with the end of "We Did It Anyway". It was however lovely to hear "(You Make Me Feel) Soft Rock" of course, no punching the air tonight though, but still also lovely and tune of the day is "20 Things To Do Before You're 30" with Jenny and I belting out the "what a crock of s**t" line as you do. Still ace.

Thom came back on and he did a really nice cover version of a Tom Petty song to mark the passing of the great man, which was good - and he also ended up playing some more lovely stuff including "Oh Lucinda!" and the opening track from his recent EP "Because of Us", called "Sweet 16" which was really catchy. He definitely impressed me so I'll have to keep my eye out on when he's next playing near me and go along, definitely. And with that done, I walked back with Mark as he headed home, and reflected on another excellent night of music literally on my doorstep!

Wednesday 25th October - I Rule (Again)

More rather good news all around as I got to grips with some ServiceNow issues that the powers that be wanted me to look at. The first was to do with the way that some disabled users don't actually get disabled in ServiceNow. A bit of further investigation showed that the expired accounts which are then disabled is in a systems management OU that isn't part of the main OU structure for actual users, computers etc. So a little work was needed to add an additional OU definition, ensure that the same import rules and scripts ran, and then tested it. Badabing, 80 accounts now correctly showing disabled in the test instance. Rock and roll.

I spent some time this morning writing up the documentation for that, as I thought it would make more sense to be able to have something to show for the work but also then mean that if anyone needed to refer back to it, it's all there. Plus as I am raising said changes as a planned change it does mean that we are able to have a way of tracking those necessary as well, so makes perfect sense to be able to get that all sorted out with a view to progressing things forward.

And talking of which, I finally got to the bottom of a way that we could get a web form done which mirrors the main incident form for customer facing use, but in fact actually gives us some more information and populates that in the description field. It turns out that you can use your custom variables and add them into the main description, but you need to use += to do so, so that it appends the existing rather than replaces or doesn't add. Once I'd sussed that out, a bit of script syntax later does the job.

I walked through it with my colleague who's been working mainly for the digital piece, and he seemed pretty pleased with the work, as a nice straightforward form with values populated accordingly into the call and showed up as a valid description too. I'll do some final testing tomorrow before raising a change, but the good thing is that I know it's appreciated what I do, and finding these sorts of solutions and implementing them is what makes me feel good. And in addition, it makes a change from SCCM as well, as much as I do love that.

I've also been watching the Snooker Legends UK Seniors Championship stream on Youtube, with Stephen Hendry showing he still knows how to play the game as he's currently as I speak steamrollering Tony Knowles, definitely was one I'd expect but still - the passion does burn inside. I must admit that I am half tempted to see if I can get some time off work and spend a day or two up in York watching the UK Championship there, and "Drag Racer" by the Doug Wood Band is tune of the day, aka the proper snooker theme.

Tuesday 24th October - Snooker Loopy in Redhill

After heading home from work and grabbing a quick bite to eat, it was off to East Croydon station to get the train to Redhill. Although I know that the 405 bus stops near me which takes me to Redhill, I know from experience of going to Tesco Purley that the traffic gets snarled up heading towards the M25 along the A23, so wouldn't be an ideal route to take - and it'd also mean I knew I could get there fine (as long as Southern actually bothered to deliver some sort of train service.) so all was good there. I made sure I had enough pay as you go balance on Oyster (Redhill is now Oyster capable, but the single fare is the same as the single train fare) - and was soon there and making my way through the town centre to the Harlequin Theatre.

Once inside I had spotted Joe Johnson at the bar happily signing autographs and talking to everyone. I also saw that a few of the players were using the practice table and plenty of merchandise was also being sold. It was also good that the bar prices were reasonable, and looking at the theatre programme, they do alright for schedules, Ed Byrne is playing here in a few months time so as I know the place is very doable to get to, I'll definitely have to consider it for future reference.

It was soon 7pm and out came John Virgo, the MC and compere for the evening's entertainment, of course walking on to the classic theme to Big Break by Captain Sensible, so make that one tune of the day - it's still one that I sing along to whenever I see repeats on the telly. He announced who was playing, and with a slight change - Tony Knowles had had a stomach bug during the day and so was moved around to play tonight, so it would be him following Cliff Thorburn as the legends on show tonight. No complaints there - always good to see the old classic players.

So up first then was Cliff Thorburn against the senior amateur champion Jonathan Bagley. It was the first time I'd seen Jonathan play, and he was unlucky not to get a century break in the first frame, and kept going with a decent break in the second frame. He could have won the third, but fluffed a shot on the pink and went in-off, so Cliff sunk the pink and black to head back to 2-1. The fourth frame went a bit tactical, with Cliff struggling at times to meet the 30 second shot clock, only just about meeting that with a second or two left (and using both timeouts to extend the shot clock by another 30 seconds). However, Jonathan held his form well and he finished the match off for a 3-1 win and through to face John Parrott.

After a 20 minute interval, it was then Tony Knowles against Gary Filtness. Gary had won several matches on a respotted black final frame decider to qualify, and had plenty of fans in the theatre cheering him on, going "Come on The Blade!" at every opportunity. Tony did well to win the first one, and the next two went Gary's way, with him challenging the decision of referee Patricia Murphy not to award a foul shot when Tony looked like he had miscued with the rest. It did rattle him a bit but it was at least tense and exciting because of it. The fourth frame was going Gary's way but he failed an escape and gave Tony a free ball, and he cleared up to the black, then sank the black to force a final frame decider.

The final frame in Snooker Legends is effectively a respotted black, pure and simple. After Gary played first and did the classic double to both cushions, Tony had made the balls safe, and a few more exchanges later and a possible double by Gary left the ball tantalisingly over the pocket, which Tony sunk to win 3-2 and to face Stephen Hendry in the next round. It was around 11.10pm by the time play had finished, but it had been an exciting evening overall. What I also noted was that a maximum 147 break would win a Kia Sportage car (not that anyone made a century) - and that Michaela Tabb who had refereed the first match was still as excellent as ever, spotting and calling a foul on Cliff Thorburn when he reached over a pink ball and moved it when playing a shot down the table.

Interestingly, John Virgo did commentate on the first match also. It was good to see that he actually commentated a lot less than he would do on the BBC, and would just interject when something happened when needed. It did make me wonder whether in fact less is more and whether the Beeb should do one commentator per table for future tournaments. Dennis Taylor then took up the mic for the second match, and amazingly did not mention golf once during his stint. Again, the less is more mode of commentary worked well and was just a case of needing to interject at the right time. All good stuff and definitely for me showed a much more positive side to that.

I'd definitely go again and the only regret I've got is that with a gig on Thursday I'm going to and having the food shopping delivered tomorrow night, I wouldn't be able to see more of the action. What in hindsight I should have done was to book a day off work and head along to the afternoon sessions, that would have been pretty good to do, especially as then I could have just got a return train ticket or done the bus both ways (I did take the 405 home incidentally, so good to go through Merstham and Coulsdon and see that they're like also.)

Monday 23rd October - Back In The Swing

So it was a case of doing plenty of changes and back in the swing of things today, as first of all I was monitoring a change we were making to existing machines across the estate. As we had decided that SMB1 shouldn't really be an included feature in Windows 10 anymore due to the fact it's an older and less safe protocol, we had a way of using the dism command to effectively remove the feature, which was good. However, for Windows 7 it was slightly different and had to do some Group Policy registry settings to do the same thing, which also appeared to work.

By the end of the day over 800 of the Windows 10 estate had ran a one command line task sequence to do the feature removal, with the /NoRestart switch ensuring we didn't get any restarts during day to day use, which was a really positive thing to do. It's gone smoothly really, so was pretty pleased, and another change I'd planned was following the moment I had on Friday, so have now amended the ServiceNow live instance accordingly and will wait for the overnight import to happen to see how that works.

On another positive note, I actually bought my first Christmas present today, although not without difficulties. What should have been a relatively straightforward purchase and a simple trip into one store proved to be a fifteen minute faux pas, with staff clearly not that well trained and managers in hiding, only coming out when absolutely necessary. I wouldn't mind so much but clearly if said shop had actually staffed properly, there wouldn't have also been a queue behind me. I'm not going to name and shame the retailer just yet, but needless to say I might have to think twice about going in there again..

And if you want to look at bad design, try Tesco's new groceries website. The old site actually did work really well, was responsive when you added things to the basket, and generally was pretty user friendly. The new one already has made me close two different sessions on two different browsers due to the unresponsiveness of the user interface, the way that items are too massively spaced, and the general time it took to load the page (and this is on a fast fibre connection by the way!)

I got there in end but after a couple of attempts, at one point the site even showing it was down itself. The good news was that I had a voucher for £7 off when you spend £50, and managed to get to just over £50, and with a mid week delivery charge of a mere £1, did pretty well, stocking up for the next few weeks as well as some nice things for the weekend to come. In the meantime, tune of the day is the delightful "Everyone's A Geek by Robberie, with the video paying tribute to the now former electronics shop Bardwells in Sheffield, and having an Atari 2600, 1040ST, Spectrum and indeed even having the loading error on there, plus all sorts of things like the Gameboy camera. Ace.

Sunday 22nd October - Knutsford Niceness

This morning Brian the cat had two visitors come up to the decking of The Love In My Heart's flat - on separate occasions. It was still windy and it was still not the best weather but he was playing outside, and first off was one of the tabby cats who lives close by and wanders around by the apartment block. The tabby was stood wanting a bit of attention and Brian was in stare out mode, but the tabby wasn't going to move quickly. I did want to give it a love though, and the second one with its split coloured face was even more cute looking. The Love In My Heart has seen them a lot but both in one morning was a record of sorts.

After a lovely breakfast we decided that with the weather not being 100% it would be decent to head out for the afternoon and after some thought, we were off towards the M56, then down the new A556 and remembering to come off at the new turnoff for Knutsford. Effectively you go back to the old road which now goes straight round the corner at Bucklow Hill, with the old road a junction to this one. Before long we arrived in Knutsford and found a suitable space at the free car park.

We did note Laura Ashley was close by so we went in, and proved to be a good move. Discounts a plenty on all sorts of stuff, and The Love spotted some nice place mats and coasters I could have had for a change (I do like my Rosina Wachtmeister cat ones though) but what we did see were some nice door stops. Although The Love would have loved a cat one, the robin has been doing the business for some time but she wanted it back in the front room with a new one for the bedroom. We saw this cute duck one and the price with discount was decent, so she decided to get it, and thus have posh bag all afternoon too. Later on Brian did take to the duck doorstop and was giving it kisses!

We then walked round the shops and they were all lovely as ever, well not all of them were open but the ones that were certainly looked lovely. There's the Bath House shop with all gorgeous bath stuff, and a couple of new interiors shops with lovely designs and some eye watering sofas that were soft and not so cheap. It did feel like a rather nice way to spend the afternoon though and later on we did lunch in The Angel, with the food as lovely as ever in there. I had the fish and chips which was spot on, and The Love's Sunday Roast lamb was excellent too.

We made our way back later, this time having to follow the A50 out of Knutsford, past the old junction with the old A556 at Mere (one of the roads is now a local road so has been somewhat pared down a bit) and you now go over the new A556 and turn left into a massive 270 degree turn to get back onto that road. No going via Bucklow Hill as you do on the way there (in fact, the signage at the A5034's junction with the A50 has plenty of warnings to say the least) and once all good, we got back to the station, where I felt massively sad and gave The Love lots of kisses before heading on the 1735 train back to Euston.

Once back via the tube and train to Croydon at home, I settled down for the USA Grand Prix in Austin, with the American glitz all there as the drivers ran on via a tunnel to the track with them all getting hyped up, and the anthem on too. The race itself was decent, with Lewis Hamilton passing Sebastian Vettel and keeping going nicely for an easy win - Vettel tried a strategy change and with fresh tyres came back to 2nd, enough to just about still be mathematically in with a shout. Drama at the end though as Max Verstappen passed Kimi Raikkonen on the final lap, then the podium position taken away from him as the stewards deemed he's crossed the track boundaries at the turn he passed. Not happy with that, looked a good move to me... and tune of the day in the meantime is the excellent "The Chain" by Fleetwood Mac, of course the proper F1 theme we all know and love.

Saturday 21st October - Storming To Victory

It was a nice relaxed morning, with me heading out to Asda mid morning to get a birthday present, and then having a relaxed time with The Love In My Heart and Brian the cat. He now has a storm named after him, and this morning was more than content to chase around leaves blowing in the wind and on to the decking at the front of The Love's flat. He does like to have his morning run around and his expert use of the paws to trap the loose leaves was pretty skilful actually - even more so when there's a soft little ball around to play with as well. He seemed happy enough.

Later on I headed off to the Etihad Stadium to meet up with my friend, and for the second Saturday in a row Manchester City had a Saturday 3pm kick off. More of those would be nice to be perfectly honest, I loathe all these moved kick offs for the telly and would love a more realistic schedule where one live game is only shown at the weekend, and the rest are all Saturday 3pm, it's that simple. When you see some of the distances fans have to consider travelling, at stupid times, it's part of the reason why grounds aren't always full of away supporters to be honest.

We got in before the rain and wind really hit hard, and today was a day when as a footballer you would be earning your money's worth, that's for sure. On a positive note, City looked to extend the lengthy winning run, and unbeaten run in the league too. Burnley though were going to be a tough side to break down and their away record was decent, so the 25/1 odds on them getting a win at the bookies inside the ground was a bit much to be honest. We both were thinking that it maybe gave us more credit than them.

So the game kicked off and City went forward at pace, and looked decent each time. Burnley weren't sat behind the ball though and looked to play some decent stuff, and then pegged back periodically. We did however have a chance to take the lead when Bernardo Silva was felled in the box by the keeper Nick Pope. Initially I thought it was harsh but later replays show that the ref had it spot on - fair play to him. Up popped Sergio Agüero to score from the spot and equal City's all time goalscorer record - he is now level with Eric Brook on 177 goals. In fact Pope saved well with his legs from Agüero twice before the break or else the record would have gone!

The second half did see Burnley come back into it a bit, and at 1-0 we were both a little worried, even if Huddersfield were performing superbly and winning 2-0 against Manchester United. However in the space of three minutes that all went away. First from a corner Nicolas Otamendi headed home through the defenders' legs, and then Kevin de Bruyne found Leroy Sané with a gorgeous pass down the left, and he doesn't miss those too often - 3-0 and cruising. The rain later was a battle to get through on the way back, but battle we did and enjoyed it more as Huddersfield won 2-1, meaning we'd be five points clear at the top. Excellent.

Later on The Love In My Heart and I settled down to have some lovely tea - it was a chicken in carbonara type sauce, and we had some potatoes and vegetables with that. Pointless was pretty good too as it was the voices special, those who you hear on radio and TV but do not see, such as two actresses from the Archers including the lovely Emerald O'Hanrahan. They had Peter Dickson, the X-Factor voice over on, and Marcus Bentley from Big Brother too, so quite an eclectic mix really.

We also saw Strictly Come Dancing, and I have to admit I've warmed to a number of them this series round. For me, it's intriguing to see Debbie McGee doing really well, with elegance and grace, and of course the dynamic duo of Jonnie Peacock and Oti Mabuse. I have to say Shirley Ballas dropped the ball somewhat with her comments afterwards, but they did well and am so glad to see them hopefully get through. Tough call who to see go next, personally for me Ruth Langsford and Simon Rimmer were weak. Tune of the day though is the excellent "Anyone Who Had A Heart" - the Cilla Black version of course, as that would have been even more lovely for Mollie King and AJ Pritchard to do the waltz too - not that I mind the band and singers, but sometimes the emotion is nicer with the voice who made the song famous (and yes I do know it was for Dionne Warwick originally.)

Friday 20th October - Eureka Moment

I had one of a few different eureka moments today as part of a week of getting things sorted, but this one was particularly good, and felt rather pleased with myself too. It's all to do with the system we use for our Helpdesk and recording incidents etc, ServiceNow, and all to do with how it deals with disabled accounts in Active Directory. Normally, you'd expect the two systems to sync, right? Well, for some reason it hadn't been doing, and so after being inspired by the all day seminars last week, I had some digging to do.

So, effectively we have a development instance, complete with development MID server used for communication internally for things like inventory and also getting information there such as LDAP calls to our Active Directory, so it knows what fields to use and so on. In effect, we can tell it was talking to LDAP no problem, and import script looked okay once I was able to see that part of the script needed the right curly brackets in there to reflect a correct statement.

I took a look therefore at the LDAP filter in place for the Users OU container, and that's where it all started to fall nicely into place. So, the LDAP properties have a filter, but that filter was actively already filtering out disabled accounts. Now, that's all well for the initial setup, as you don't want to necessarily be able to get all users imported, especially accounts disabled, and the import script that deals with that isn't enabled by default. But that script is enabled, but of course...

It would have no disabled accounts to look at during the import process, because they've been filtered out! So, it was a case of checking the documentation and working out the LDAP filter and what it should be, so sees users only but doesn't filter disabled accounts. I did that, made sure the script that runs was correct, and then did a test import. It worked, and indeed a number of accounts that were disabled in Active Directory now showed as disabled in ServiceNow too. I was very happy about that and put the change request through ready for the live system. Made my day that.

It was a journey on the train later up to Manchester but via the Crown and Anchor pub near Euston for some very nice dark ale on tap, which really did give me a nice warm feeling inside. It wasn't the nicest weather ever and with Storm Brian on the horizon, it was a case of being able to get up before that hit. The train sped through the dark and soon I had arrived at Piccadilly Station, although it was rather packed and so The Love In My Heart had sensibly packed on one of the streets close by so I could get there rather than her try to get in the short stay car park, which with all the dodgy Uber taxis, was mental.

We went to the local Chinese for our tea later on and I had the roast pork in Kung Po sauce, it was nice and a little on the spicy side, The Love had pork in OK sauce and that was a more fruity sauce too - but we had egg fried rice with it, and settled in to watch Gogglebox on Channel 4 Plus 1 later on. We both reflected on a busy week and with Brian the cat close by wanting lots of cuddles and attention, and in the meantime "Perfect World" by Kodaline, the theme tune from Gogglebox, is tune of the day.

Thursday 19th October - Why Always Me?

I settled in for the evening tonight with a surprise bonus on the telly - thanks to the BT Sport Showcase free to air channel. They do tend to show one Champions League game and one Europa League game on channel 115 on Freeview, but because it's a HD channel, it's only available if you have a Freeview HD telly (standard Freeview users miss out because the old channel 59 has been discontinued, crafty of BT that.) Still, with Nice playing Lazio I fancied watching that, not least because Mario Balotelli, who used to play for Manchester City, is now in his second season with Nice up front.

It was all go at the ground for dead on 6pm, and was glad I'd watched from the kick off, as the goals flew in early on. First of all, a neat cross from Wesley Sneijder found the head of Balotelli, and he did what he does best and headed the ball to the far corner of the net. 1-0 to Nice, and it made me think of that tune by Tinchy Stryder with his mates in Ruff Sqwad, entitled "Mario Balotelli" so that's tune of the day. Of course the chorus has the classic line of Mario's, "Why always me?" as well. Even though Tinchy is a Man U fan, he actually liked Balotelli and so was inspired to write that.

Not that the lead lasted long for Nice though, as a long ball forward was missed by the Nice goalkeeper, and up popped another former Manchester City man, Felipe Caicedo, to score the equaliser, literally less than a minute after the opener. Amazing stuff, and I wondered if the scoring could keep going at this rate. Obviously the answer was no, and you could tell why Nice have been off form in Ligue 1 lately - their defence is a shambles. Manchester City fans will testify how much better our defence is this season with having Ederson in net instead of Claudio Bravo, which breeds confidence in the defenders. The Nice goalie - worse than Bravo, seriously.

It didn't surprise me therefore that Lazio kept going forward, and the Italian side looked more composed on and off the ball generally. It was only a matter of time before they went ahead, with Sergej Milinković-Savić scoring mid way though the second half and then adding a good header in stoppage time from a corner to seal the 3-1 win for Lazio. It was a deserved win and it meant they were one of only four Europa League sides with a 100% record. Mario did have the odd chance, but you could tell he was a frustrated figure too.

I got all my stuff ready for the weekend, so plenty of packing was done and getting all my washing sorted out too. It just means less to do when I get back and it also means more time for me over the weekend generally. I must admit I am happy to see The Love In My Heart of course, and Brian the cat really has been a lot more wanting cuddles and a fuss now, so much so he does what Jô used to do and wait at the door for Mummy to come home and give him a love.

Wednesday 18th October - Less Than

It was off after work via Blackfriars to the District Line tube, and as I'd just missed the Wimbledon one, I hopped on the next one to Richmond, got off at Earls Court and across the platform was the other one from Edgware Road to Wimbledon, so quick swap later and I was off again, getting well past Fulham Broadway before all the Chelsea fans started arriving for tonight's Chelski v Roma game in the Champions League. I must admit I'll be hoping that Edin Džeko of Roma manages to get a goal, he's still respected a lot by us Man City fans for the time he spent here and the numerous goals against Man U as well.

I got to the hairdressers and it was relatively quiet, so it was in and get the hair cut and have a good natter about football with the blokes in there - and they're always a friendly bunch too which is nice. I think things like that such as getting somewhere reliable has helped me settle down here a fair bit more. Yes, I do miss Manchester. A lot. I miss The Love In My Heart. A lot. But there's also the fact that having somewhere else to feel comfortable does help too.

I arrived back home later and the new Nine Inch Nails EP "Add Violence" had arrived. It was actually the CD version which for some reason took a fair while to come out after the digital EP had been released. Of course, I had been looking forward to it so I could play it loud on my separates, and with the Mission M73 floorstanders ready to give it some welly. Naturally of course I loved "Less Than" when it came out due to the Jeff Minter video, he of gaming legend no less.

And it doesn't sound any less meaty when played through a system either, it really does give some power to the drums and especially the guitars that scream through at pace and give the whole thing a sense of urgency as well as a nod to the past (the line "Welcome oblivion" was the title of a track from Reznor's side project How To Destroy Angels no less) - and definitely still there in terms of excellence, tune of the day obviously for that one, and good to boot.

I even got a mention by no less than Jayne Middlemiss tonight (woo, get me). She had asked for things that make you feel old, so I responded that when someone says "Oooh, have you hard this new song by... " and it turns out that it's actually a cover version of something you listened to when younger. For me at least I can remember many occasions this happened. What I didn't expect was her to read that out on her Wednesday night show on Sino Radio. Happy bunny actually. And for the record, anyone who still thinks Atomic Kitten did "The Time Is High" need to be pointed into the direction of the John Holt original, made famous later by a certain Blondie cover no less..

Tuesday 17th October - A Trip To IKEA

After work it was off to IKEA, primarily to stock up on a few bits, and also because I'd had an email a few days ago from them. I've been an IKEA Family Card member for ages, and as such you do get some additional benefits such as free coffee during the week, discount on breakfast if you're there early, and also some products discounted when you're a holder, so well worth it to be honest. Anyway, the email mentioned that it was, unbelievably, thirty years since they launched in the UK - and I do remember early in the 1990s heading off to the Warrington one with Mum and Dad at the time..

So the offers were basically two of them for card holders, the second of which I only realised once I'd actually had my complimentary coffee which I had in the café first and then went to the machine to get the vouchers. It was for a free speciality coffee and cake. I can always nip in one night during the week when I fancy a little treat as it's not that far to go from home (and obviously any getting there is covered by the monthly Oyster travelcard anyway, so win.) The main offer though was for £5 off your purchase, and as there were a few things I fancied, a good idea to get them now I guessed.

It was enjoyable to walk around at leisure and not have to feel the need to rush around, and it was good to spot several different items I fancied over time. The good thing too was that the items I wanted were in stock, the main one being a kitchen knife set, which has a vegetable knife, a meat knife and a bread knife, just what I needed. I also got some new candles as the tealights I did have (also from IKEA) had ran out, and the nice vanilla ice cream smell enticed me no problem. I did also get a dustpan and brush and lint roller, and was tempted by a nice soft bath mat for the bathroom as well, but my existing nice one is from there too, so no definite need to change it yet.

It was good to go through the self-serve till, swipe all the things in (and have the ID verified for the knives, even though they're in really hard to open packaging, with the raft of knife crime in London it's perfectly understandable really) and then use the voucher for the £5 off, so didn't have to pay that much either on top, and even better was that the bus home from there was only around two minutes' wait, so got home in good time to watch the Manchester City v Napoli game on BT Sport.

As for City, definitely a game of two halves, as we were rampant first half with some excellent football leading to the opener from Raheem Sterling, and the pinpoint pass from the wing of Kevin de Bruyne finding Gabriel Jesús for 2-0. And within thirteen minutes. City then went for it more, hit the crossbar and had a shot cleared off the line, and then Napoli came back into it. They missed a penalty and we had Fernandinho to thank for clearing the rebound, then the camera panned to de Bruyne at half time for some reason yelling "Let me talk!" a lot - I guess he was cheesed off with the booking he had, but sensibly David Silva was leading him away from the ref...

The second half proved a tougher watch, City still going forward but Napoli getting more into the game, and it took an impressive John Stones block to keep the score as it was. They did get another penalty later on and scored it, and City held on with a tight grip of the game and ground out the win in the end - in a way that was also impressive, the fact that we were able to dig that one out as needed. In the meantime, tune of the day is the old theme music from the old IKEA advert, "Chuck Out That Chintz" - you'll know the advert and think "Ah yes, that..."

Monday 16th October - Ophelia

It was all about the weather and the "ex-" hurricane Ophelia, which was to hit Ireland throughout the day. I knew that this wasn't a warning taken lightly, they had already decided to close the schools for safety in what turned out to be a wise move, and the darkness even where I was ended up being visible around 3pm where it felt decidedly dark - almost as dark as when I'd set off for work this morning. The Natalie Merchant title track of her "Ophelia" album is tune of the day for obvious reasons really.

I had a very busy day at work, and was glad to get through a fair amount of catching up to say the least. It was good to knuckle down and get on with things, and plenty of things to consider at that as well. One of the things I'm looking into is to how best to manage some of the content on a remote site and getting that content over there, especially as it's a valid SCCM distribution point now. On a positive side I think I've got a good plan ready to go, and it's just a case of getting that into action.

However, at the same time, what I have noticed as of late is how much stuff to do there appears to be, and what is needed to be done, certainly in terms of workload at least there is plenty to be getting on with, as well as the Business As Usual sort of stuff. In a good way that does mean that the day does fly by nicely and that always is a positive of course, but on the negative I sometimes feel that maybe I'd have liked to have done more in the day too - The Love In My Heart feels the same often about that.

I was saddened though today to hear of the death of Sean Hughes. He was in the 1990s in particular one of my favourite comedians, and I can remember him doing an epic two and a half hour show at the former Free Trade Hall in Manchester, where he went on about the religious cult in Brookside, and also plenty of excellent nods to Morrissey et al too. In fact, his posing in Morrissey t-shirt complete with gladioli in the NME was one of the things I remember well from way back when.

I also admired Sean's Show for being so idiosycrantic but in a really funny way, and indeed the fact he was team captain on Never Mind The Buzzcocks for several years, with the infamous "Detchable Penis" episode with Graham Norton and Shovell from M People, and indeed often teaming up with Tony Wright from Terrorvision ("I don't know it, it's not metal!") which was always fun. I do miss that and will miss Sean as well, a sad, sad loss.

Sunday 15th October - Midland Mooching

It was a case of altering plans today, but worked out actually really well once that was done. So, The Love In My Heart and I headed up, and with Brian the cat by the window wanting lots of fussing and cuddling, and tummy tickling. What we've noticed a lot more since Jô has passed away was that we tend to hear Brian and his little squeal a lot more when he wants something, miaowing high pitched and looking longingly outside when he wants to go and have a play. And once outside, he loves just staring out and watching the people go by. He came in then and miaowed at me to take his little harness off, and was so happy when I did.

The original plan after breakfast was to head out to Lyme Park with the weather being very nice, and take a walk around the house and gardens. We'd worked out a diversion to avoid Stockport due to the main road having roadworks in the town centre, and once done that, we headed via Marple and via High Lane towards Lyme Park. As we approached the turn off, we noted a number of cars queueing up - not unusual, but they all were attempting to turn round, which in the middle of the busy A6, not good. Then I spotted the "car park full" sign, and that explained a lot, as no one could get in - the alternative being parking in Disley and heading via one of the trails that way.

We both reckoned that it was all down to the popularity of the new Warburtons advert with Peter Kay and Emma Connell, but also due to some recent heavy rain which had left some of the car parking spaces on grass into a quagmire, and so didn't want anyone getting stuck. For those of you who haven't seen the advert, part of it is filmed at Lyme Park in the gardens, similar to how the BBC adaptation of Pride and Prejudice was with Colin Firth, so obviously those who did recognise it wanted to see it for themselves and end up doing all manner of Peter Kay impersonations!

Anyway, with that denied, we headed back via Marple to Marple Bridge, and after a little walk around the village and admiring the lovely stone cottages, we walked another path which followed the River Goyt. We could see over the river the nice apartments and cottages in the narrow streets and the river flowing well. It was a reasonably well trodden path but with a bank down to the river below, so caution needed - in the wet, this would not be a sensible idea to be honest!

We did head back to the Midland at Marple Bridge, where we've had many a nice meal together. We didn't get into the main seating area, but they were flexible enough to allow you to get a table in the bar area and eat there. And Tribute ale on cask, oh yes, so we got a nice table with comfy chairs, and we ordered the Sunday roast each - I had the pork, The Love had the beef. It was good, and the veg plentiful enough, but I think The Love's beef was a little fatty in places. However, the sticky toffee pudding I had for dessert was rather gorgeous to say the least! The Love texted me later to say how nice she felt being there having a meal with me, which was a really lovely thing.

We headed back later to Piccadilly station and we gave each other a massive hug before I headed back homewards on the 1735 to Euston. I had the headphones on and gave the Gary Numan new album a blast again, and this was rather good, especially playing the likes of "Mercy" (make that tune of the day) as the darkness descended in the early evening. I had to divert to London Bridge to get the train to East Croydon due to the closures near Victoria, but got home reasonably okay. And once home, I noted that the replacement soft close hinge had arrived. Didn't take me long to fit it, and that's all working again - a nice end to a lovely weekend all round. More of those please!

Saturday 14th October - Seventh Heaven

The Love In My Heart and I had some nice breakfast whilst watching the breakfast thing with James Martin on ITV1. The Love prefers James Martin doing the cookery shows on the telly, and Saturday Kitchen has been frankly bobbins since he left, and all the hosts bar Michel Roux Jr are bobbins on it. At least with the one he does now he can film it at leisure, and him and Jun Tanaka battling tennis balls from a serving machine whilst answering tricky questions from Judy Murray was a total hoot to be honest. Brian the cat loved playing outside on the decking, and all was good there.

Later on my friend headed to the Etihad Stadium as did I and once we met up, it was in the ground and get the custromary brew before kick off. We had hoped for the continued good form after an excellent win at Chelski prior to the International break, and with us free scoring at home, hopes were for a win first and foremost, especially as we learned about half an hour before kick off that the hyped up Liverpool v Man U game had ended a goalless bore draw. Yawn. So any draw would see us top, and of course a win would get us two points clear as well, a good incentive I reckon.

So the game kicked off, and City were just mesmerising. Honestly. I even forgave the glaring miss in the first few minutes by Leroy Sané as I suspected we'd score a goal soon. And soon we did. The ball was played down the right hand side for Kyle Walker to run on at pace, and he passed it directly to Gabriel Jesús for 1-0. Almost straight from the kick off, a flowing move from the back with a lot of passes found Kevin de Bruyne who put a delightful ball through, and this was passed across the box for Raheem Sterling to score a tap in for 2-0. Easy! Easy!

And the half wasn't done with goals either. Next up to score was David Silva, following some neat passing on the right, the ball got to him near the edge of the penalty box. He had to stretch after a first touch, but guided the ball smoothly home for 3-0. And it was under half an hour gone. Excellent. Even a late burst from Stoke with a deflected shot from their main striker Mame Diouf meant 3-1 at half time, and a sense that we could if we wanted to score more whenever we felt like.

The second half though started with Stoke heading forward and a cross that meat Diouf's head was deflected in off the post by Kyle Walker. 3-2 and all of a sudden, game very much on. I said to my friend that if we scored next, we should win it, but the next goal was going to be huge. We didn't have long to wait. de Bruyne got the ball on the half way line, and then curved in a sublime pass for Jesús to smash home for 4-2. Excellent stuff. And indeed from a corner five minutes later, the ball came out to Fernandinho. We know he can hit them from outside the box, and hit it he did, right in the top corner! Superb strike. 5-2.

No sooner were we celebrating that goal but we then had another excellent de Bruyne pass laid on a plate for Leroy Sané to smash home low from the left side, and with an hour gone, it was 6-2. Four goals in the space of a quarter of an hour, breathless stuff. And even with bringing on all the subs, and noticeable that de Bruyne even got a round of applause from the Stoke City fans which was nice to see, City weren't done and a pass into the box found Bernardo Silva who slotted home low with ten minutes left for 7-2. Even then Yaya Touré had a shot, David Silva shot a curler just wide of the post, and it was just awesome.

Needless to say we were both buzzing after that, and had to smile as the likes of Ian Wright reluctantly had to give us praise on Match of the Day later on. The evening was spent snuggled up with The Love In My Heart and Brian the cat, first of all watching Strictly Come Dancing with some rather good efforts all round, especially I thought the excellent Alexandra Burke smashed it with her jive to "Proud Mary" - the Tina Turner cover version (you know the one that goes "rollin' on a river..") - tune of the day for sure - and with her mum passing away recently, she got understandably emotional - and her Mum would have been proud of her.

Surprisingly the other dance I liked was Susan Calman with Kevin Clifton (aka Kevin from Grimsby) doing the Morecambe and Wise theme tune, "Bring Me Sunshine." Their quickstep was a total joy to behold and I really thought how nice it would be that it makes people smile so much. Good on her too for sticking to her guns and going for it. Under duress I did have to endure the Six Chair Challenge X Factor, the less said about that pile of bobbins the better, and they've let some crap through this year haven't they?

Friday 13th October - Nuuuuuuuuuman!

I had the day off work today, and for good reason. I was heading up earlier to Manchester to meet with my friend and head off to Manchester Academy 1 later to see Gary Numan live. We've seen him live a number of times there including his 50th birthday gig, and also in Cardiff too, but it's always good in Academy 1 because we get a decent view, the sound engineer knows their stuff, and he always has a good crowd going for it and chanting his name almost football chant style, hence the title of today's entry.

So after negotiating the umpteen delays on Southern Rail to get to London Victoria, it was then on the tube to Euston and there in good time for the 1200 departure from there to Manchester Piccadilly. The journey at lunch time was nice and quiet, which was good, and also spent some time listening to the new Gary Numan album "Savage: Songs From a Broken World" as well, so definitely got myself prepped up for later. And it was good to just look out of the window and watch the countryside go by in the daylight for a change!

I had the spare key for The Love In My Heart's place, and so took the tram to her place and was greeted by Brian the cat being all cute and lovely. I did give him some Dreamies Deli-Cats, which he wolfed down and was very happy to have. I also gave him a love and a fuss for a while and it was good to relax in the afternoon with him by my side, all snuggled up in the shoe box and all ready to have a sleep too. Of course that was much nicer to give him a love than watch daytime telly for fairly obvious reasons!

My friend came over around 4pm to collect me, and we headed off to the Snipe Retail Park near Ashton-under-Lyne for tea at Pizza Hut. My friend and I both like it there, and in fact it just meant we could have a good natter and catch up whilst also having some excellent food - for me it was the meat feast with barbecue sauce base, and my friend the margherita. We also of course used the drinks machine for refills as needed, which works well because you aren't limited, and some of the pasta and little bites at the salad bar were also there for a good starter too, so all good there.

Later on it was off towards the centre of Manchester, and remembering that Oxford Road is closed to traffic, headed down the back of Upper Lloyd Street to Denmark Road, and was then able to turn left and head towards the car park next to the Academy. Unfortunately, the machine doesn't take the old or new £1 coin, it was either a £2 coin or four 50p coins instead - clearly not good, and so had to make a quick dash to the local takeaway and get the coins changed, and then in the car park all in good time for the doors to open and for us to get in and head towards the balcony section. The DJ was playing some excellent songs in between bands, including Ministry, Nine Inch Nails, and even Front 242, both the A- and the B- side of the Headhunter 12" single. Ooh yes.

The support act was Jayce Lewis, and he and band were very good, the bass player especially going for it with majestic sweeps of the long hair and belting out another tune in the process. "Shields" was particularly good with its driving rhythm and a real sense of building throughout the track, and he really did give his all when on vocals and occasional guitar. Definitely was pumped up to be supporting too, with plenty of his own "Nuuuuuuman" chants throughout too. Might have to check out "Million Part 1" out in the next few weeks I reckon.

The tension built up and just after 9pm on came Gary Numan. What followed was a storming set with plenty of the new album and some old and new classics mixed in nicely. So off we started with the powerful opener from Savage, "Ghost Nation" which could then lead itself nicely into the classic "Metal" up next. Nice. What made me happy next was the storming version of "The Fall" from the Dead Son Rising Album, really tight guitars on this especially. "Bed of Thorns" came up and I don't think my friend was too impressed with that one, as it is quite a slow burner.

The title track from "Splinter" came up next, and that was fairly epic, but then a nice surprise, a more stripped back and yet powerful version of "Down In The Park" which had everyone pretty happy! Some more off the new album and then the single "My Name Is Ruin" which sounded totally epic with that filtered main lead line emnating throughout the Academy, definitely tune of the day. Granted we didn't get his daughter Persia on stage singing with him (as will be the case at Brixton tomorrow) but still, lots of fans were singing the chorus so a good sign to see that it's a new classic already - and I love it, it has to be said.

What I didn't expect was "Love Hurt Bleed" straight after and sounding so tight, so that was rather good, and then of course came the onslaught of some of the classics, so much in the style of the Fear Factory version, "Cars" was belted out, and another one of my new album favourites, "When The World Comes Apart" also getting a good airing too. We even had "A Prayer For The Unborn" from the Pure album to end the main set, so nice to delve into that. I'd have wanted the title track from Pure too, but that's because it's up there with my favourite Numan tracks ever.

Oh, and the encore. As my friend said afterwards, that was how you do an encore. And he wasn't wrong either. First off, "I Die You Die" which naturally had everyone belting the chorus out at pace, which was rather good, and then, removing most of the piano intro from previous live shows, straight headlong into "Are 'Friends' Electric" with the customary "whoa... whoa" bits from the crowd and Numan in excellent form throughout. And yes, it was an encore well worthy of the man and ended the night on a massive high.

As we left the Academy, the traffic to get out at the lights on Denmark Road took some time but didn't take us long to navigate our way outwards and back to The Love's place, and my friend and I would see each other tomorrow for the football, so all good there. The Love and Brian the cat were there to greet me and Brian snuggled up on the end of the bed, and it was such a good night seeing the man live again. And the crowd's chant of "Nuuuuuuman! Nuuuuuuuman" would be the one to take with me to sleep - an epic, ace gig.

Thursday 12th October - Now Forum

A different day today as I was heading off not to work but to the ExCeL centre in the Docklands part of London to be at the Service Now Forum, a get together to get involved with seminars and sessions all to do with ServiceNow, which we currently use as our incident management system for IT, and may be looking to expand in more detail in the future. It was good that the event was a free event so it made sense for work to allow myself and my Service Delivery Manager to attend and see what we could get out of it.

So it was off to West Croydon station and on the Overground (or the orange line as some of us call it) to Shadwell and there changing for the DLR towards Beckton, which means that I got a seat and didn't have to battle with the masses at Canning Town so epic win all round. It was soon off at Prince Regent and then along the corridors to the registration area - the same place Microsoft used for the Cloud Roadshow which I attended there last year. It was all very familiar territory and soon my colleague joined us for coffee, and we had a mooch around the stalls offering various enhancements and upgrades (a lack of free stuff though), before all of us headed in for the main presentation around 0930.

The main presentation involved several key personnel but also some customers who've been able to transform what they do, and it was good hearing their first hand experiences as to what would happen with them. In fact it made it less of a sales pitch overall, and when one of the folks started talking about the new machine learning and AI features, you could tell that was exciting people somewhat - you could enter part of a call symptom and there'd be suggestions as to what to do next and how to be able to apply that knowledge, which made a lot of sense, provided of course you had the setup right.

After a mid morning coffee we joined one of the IT breakout sessions which went more into the further detail as to what was coming, including benchmarks so you could more accurately measure your SLAs, how challenges with applications and that estate are often because things are included outside of your control in the classic "it was a good idea at the time" mould, and how new features such as portfolio management should help track major developments and changes to what you have running more easily, and a touch on cloud services and how you often have many of them running. (and of course with GDPR looming, even more compliance needed on that front of course).

Lunch was a lengthy one but it did allow us to get some nice beef bourbignon with either rice or mash and some vegetables, and once done we headed out for some fresh air and a chatter and seeing all the planes land at the not too far away London City Airport, which made me think of a possible getaway in future! Anyway, back in the afternoon first session, and we were able to take a look at how some of the challenges ahead make you feel like you're facing the wind but the wrong way, and how you can help turn them into a tailwind instead to make things work for you.

No doubt that there's several big drivers in this in terms of the challenges faced particularly by IT: the cost of services, the end user experience, the service availability and indeed the hyper growth of both devices and data. Back in the day you'd maybe have one PC desktop to use. Nowadays it could be desktop, tablet, laptop, phone etc, and growing in a much bigger way. Data of course if the other big thing as part of that: especially where it's stored, how that's impacted legally etc. I've seen too many data leakages that were high profile to know it's something to very carefully take into consideration. That said, I'm not sure being an evangelist for bringing something new in would stand well with me!

We had a good chat with two of the ServiceNow staff about some features we'd like to get brought in and how we could best adjust the workflows to suit, which proved to be a debate about how we'd actually like to educate users to approve requests when they should and not four months down the line! We finished the day off with one final session with a deep dive into some new functionality and features and how they all sit within the whole software as a service thing, which worked out pretty well. All in all, it was a very useful day and has given us both some ideas how to move forward with things.

I also spent some time tonight listening to a classic album from 1992: Rage Against The Machine's eponymous debut. It's twenty five years old next month and is a real testament to its impact that it's still regarded as one of the all time classic albums: and I can't disagree. In fact the production on the album was so good that hi-fi stores would often use it as a reference disc to show off the latest high end CD player (yes, Marantz CD-63 KI Signature, I'm looking at you!) - which said a lot. And because I spent many a time moshing to it and later belting out the words on Guitar Hero, "Killing In The Name" is tune of the day.

Wednesday 11th October - I Have The Power (Bi)

So, yesterday, my Citrix colleague was testing out the new version of Power BI Desktop. It all appeared to work and indeed then was made available via Citrix to those that needed it, and so today I was spending some time looking at getting the desktop installer rolled out via SCCM so that everyone could have the new version - it's on our Windows 10 standard build currently. As ever, I always like to test things out fully first before then deciding to roll them out and that includes running the software as a standard user to make sure it all works as it's intended to do so.

Except, it doesn't quite do so. Instead of the normal screen where you get to choose to open your dataset etc, you now are presented with a splash screen to enter details (assumedly for some newsletter signup, for contet and so on) from Microsoft. You can skip this and go to the sign in page if a registered user, but kind of not the point - the splash screen is there from the start which is rather annoying, and unless you click the tiny link at the bottom or fill the form out, you can't skip it. When we urge people to be cautious of malware, this isn't exactly the behaviour I had in mind.

Anyway, I decided to test this out and fill out some dummy data in the form. It transpires it then adds a hidden preference in the user.zip file, stored in the user's local application data folder under Power BI. This preference is called "ShowLeadGenDialog" - so I looked further into it. If you install the MSI installer as an admin user, there's a registry key created under the user which has the same preference setting, but set to 1 - so active. Unfortunately if the user hasn't run the software and the preference doesn't exist, the key is populated automatically with 1. Rather lame that, especially as when looking at the installer in Orca, it sets the user setting to be a registry key in current user. Not really good if going out to all users, right?

So I did another controlled test. If the software is installed and the user hasn't run it before, what if I pre-populate the registry key and value in advance? I tried that as a standard user, and guess what? It worked! No annoying pop up screen to start. It looks like the October update (2.51.xxx) is the one that's caused this, so a word of note if you're planning to roll this out yourselves, you may have to make sure you've got a setting in your Group Policy to ensure that setting is applied to the user, and that way won't have an issue. There's also a new MSI switch ENABLECXP=0 if you don't want to take part in the Customer Experience Program thing.

It really irks me when features are brought in without fanfare that doesn't make the experience user friendly. It's almost as if it doesn't want you to try and use the software (or instead pay for the Pro version and sign in and stay signed in) - which is a bit much to be honest. Sometimes, I think, less is more. In fact talking of less, I think nothing less than brilliant is the rather classic Pop Will Eat Itself single "Everything's Cool?" from 1994 - and tune of the day. I used to pogo to this a lot at indie nights and will be doing so again when I see the band live next month. Massively looking forward to that!

Tuesday 10th October - Busy Bunny

It's been a pretty busy day of sorts at work today. It turned out that some of the batch of laptops being deployed with Windows 10 had failed - and all at the same step too. Not good. Until I realised that infact the content for the package concerned had been updated whilst someone was running the task sequence, and so as such the hash value failed because it was different. So a re-run of those and they all worked first go, so pretty pleased that everything fell into place nicely.

What was also noticeable was when I had a chat with one of our digital people was that looking to get a form to a record an incident in the helpdesk system we use, ServiceNow, should in theory work, but actually may need some additional work to capture the fields that we want. Any form used in the service catalog needs a record producer (no, not Stock Aitken and Waterman!) in order to correctly map to fields and values in the incident table. So if you're creating a revised form, it needs to ensure that all the fields tie in - and if there isn't one, it's then a case of seeing if the incident table can be expanded (or not).

It was definitely busy all round, and glad to be able to leave on time feeling like I had done a lot, but with plenty still to do. I'd also done some additional research about how Office 365 updates trash the Visio Viewer association, and look like I've got a possible solution to that so that it doesn't break every single time. More testing needed, but hopefully got something to this anyway. It's always good to actually think on the feet and get things nicely sorted.

I was looking forward to Celebrity Hunted on Channel 4 tonight, and wasn't disappointed either, it has to be said. I've loved the original series of that and was so pleased when the bloke who was just an ordinary bloke and no one thought would evade capture proved everyone wrong and was one of two who managed to win the share of the money at the end. Of course the celebrity one has added difficulty - everyone will recognise you, especially if speaking to strangers and asking for help (yes that is you, Anneka Rice!) was part of the job in television programmes from the past.

So off they went, with the excellent Nick Harvey theme tune (make that tune of the day) setting the scene rather well too. The Made in Chelsea pair of course escaped by helicopter to the Isle of Wight, and in a twist of irony, Anneka ended up being shipped there by her friend from Dire Straits along the way. I do think though Steph and Dom formerly from Gogglebox will be caught - especially as he was daft enough to use a phone that would obviously be traced. See what happens next week!

Monday 9th October - Hinged

I had noticed on Friday night that for some reason one of the soft close hinge covers that are on the doors to all the kitchen cupboards had given up the ghost and wasn't working. On further examination it looked like one of the two teeth which hold the soft close cover in place had broken and so had fallen off. The hinge thankfully was all intact still and so it was a case of me being able to source a replacement, and managed to see on online for a mere £3, so got that ordered, all sorted when it arrives. So much easier when it's actually easy to source parts I think!

I also arrived home and noted what had arrived in the post - a t-shirt I had ordered. And no ordinary t-shirt either. As I've been following All The Stations on the epic journey I noted that they'd made t-shirts for both Welsh and Gaelic, but thought it was a bit amiss that there was no Cornish. An email to the Cornish Language Office or two later, and I'd got the translations to the bloke who makes the t-shirts, and they agreed to get it done. And so they now exist on the merchandise site - if you're Cornish, go buy one!

Naturally of course I went for black and white in Cornish flag colours, but I guess bottle green for GWR might have been next of course. It looked the part, and it's one of two different translations, so I've suggested to The Love that getting the other one in another colour might work rather nicely. I guess too I can save them for a possible future trip to Cornwall of course, and that'd be good. I might even have to get another different design yet, but I'll see.

I also spent some time tonight listening to the new EP from Donna Marie, called Acoustica, which is available via her Twitter account if you message her nicely and ask for it. Naturally as a fan for some time (I still have plenty of the other EPs on CD from back when) I was excited as ever to hear it. And yes, it's lovely. For me, "Heal Your Mind" has her on breathless vocal form with some gorgeous acoustic guitar, so tune of the day it most definitely is. I even don't mind the cover of "Still The One" by Shania Twain, which you'll recognise within around ten seconds, and a good cover too at that.

Over on the football front, Wales and the Republic of Ireland battled it out in Cardiff for the potential runners' up spot in the group to possibly earn a play off place. With results elsewhere potentially being a bit hazardous, it did mean either side would have to win, and so with the pressure being soaked up by the Irish, they hit forward in the second half and James McLean scored to break Welsh hearts. In fact a draw wouldn't have been good for either side, so it really was winner takes all for the play-offs.

Sunday 8th October - Sauntering

I was up early but I left The Love In My Heart having a well deserved lie in, as I wanted to see the Bathurst 1000 touring car race from Australia. I had recorded it from Freesports on Freeview, but for some reason the signal must have cut off overnight and stopped the recording to the Freeview HD recorder. Noooo! Thankfully, it was still on due to rather wet conditions on Mount Panorama, so was able to see the last fifteen laps or so when I did get up. It was an epic race and in the end, David Reynolds along with his co-driver Luke Youlden won their first Bathurst 1000, and that was pretty good to see. They kept their heads when a lot of other drivers went off (including Mark Winterbottom into Forrest's Elbow with a lap and a half left) so it was pretty ace all round.

I made The Love and I breakfast later on, and once that was all sorted we had a nice relaxing chilled out rest of the morning, getting ourselves ready and then heading off into the centre of Croydon and doing some bits of window shopping. It was good to mooch around Debenhams and indeed House of Fraser and see what was in the sale, but also what potentially I could get The Love for Christmas as well - and had some nice ideas that I saw as well, which I know she would like. One thing we did see in Boots later might be purchased by one of her relations, but good to know that you could still try out a number of samples of perfume for example and see which one you like without having to commit shedloads of money first.

Later on we headed back to mine and it was time for a game of Scrabble, with the Haçienda Classical album being played too. The version of "Voodoo Ray" is pretty good on there, so tune of the day no question. In fact it was good to have that on in the background as we both made some excellent moves all round - I played QUILT on triple word for 42, and The Love played SEX (and making MAILS too) for a good score of 34, and followed that up with FIVE in the bottom left corner or 30 too, so good effort there all round methinks.

It was then on the train and tube back to Warren Street station and off to the Crown and Anchor for our usual Sunday lunch. In fact they had the Triple Chocoholic ale on, so that was to be had, especially as it's a very dark chocolate coloured stout, so me sorted, and of course with the beef and amber ale pie too which is always lovely - with The Love having the roast pork which looked ace. She always gets a lot of vegetables and so passes over a couple of the stunning heritage carrots to me, as you do!

It was a rather sad farewell at Euston later, even though she was getting a later train than normal (the 1837 at that) and we both felt like we'd had a nice relaxed weekend, and had plenty of hugs along the way which was always nice. It makes me realise just how much I love her to bits and how much that being apart during the week just makes the heart grow a lot fonder to be honest. I just hope that we can carry on working out the way we have done for the last two years, and make our relationship last wonderfully well.

I did record the F1 from the Japanese Grand Prix earlier so watched that when I got home, and that was pretty good stuff, even though Lewis Hamilton won well, he did have a tough challenge from Max Verstappen most of the way and had to be on it for most of the time too. Of course with Sebastian Vettel's car conking out early on it did mean that the title could have been well on its way to be decided here, but no complaints here. Also, kudos too to the Force India team for another consistent double points finish.

Saturday 7th October - Is Brixton A City Very Clear To Us?

It was a cloudy morning over Croydon, and it had rained a little bit which wasn't good. I did nip out and was able to get some little bits I needed for the flat, including some hob cleaner, and had a little mooch around some of the other shops before heading home and getting everywhere even more cleaner and sorted out. The Love In My Heart was on the train heading down from Manchester Piccadilly to Euston, so I made sure all was well and once she had got to Victoria, I headed to East Croydon station to meet up with The Love, and that was a rather nice hug all round to be honest.

Once we'd arrived back at mine and she had unpacked, we had a drink and a chat before heading out into the centre of Croydon and had a light lunch in The Milan Bar first, before heading off to the station to get the train. The Roaring Four Brewery were celebrating their second birthday and having a bit of a little celebration at the London Beer Lab in Brixton. I thought it'd be good to go and see what it was like, and also have a mooch around the markets and that there too (plus the Morley's department store which The Love would also like.) So off to Victoria, and seeing as the train was every 15 minutes and we'd missed one, it was on the tube to head off to Brixton.

Once we got out of the tube station, I showed The Love the David Bowie mural that's on the road opposite. Most of it is covered in plexiglass so it doesn't get scrawled on or wrecked now, a very sensible move that. We headed down the side of Marks and Spencer to Nursery Road and soon found the London Beer Lab. It was pretty busy actually and so we managed to get inside, and I admired all the beer on sale there - lots of local ales from the likes of the Gipsy Hill Brewery for example, and indeed lots of nice ales on, especially some limited runs made specially for the birthday.

I indulged myself with the Roaring Four Smoked Porter - my, it was gorgeous! It was black and dark with a smokey aftertaste, and a proper porter too, which is nice. And nicely priced too - £4 for the pint, and £3 for the glass of wine that The Love had. Pretty good really. It was good to catch up and chatter there and be all cosied up together, and once we'd had the lovely beer, we headed back to the centre, and down Electric Avenue with all the market stalls, and then passed more stalls under the railway bridge before then arriving at Pop Brixton.

Those of you who watched The Apprentice the other night should recognise it - it's a load of shipping containers converted into a retail space, similar to Boxpark in Shoreditch and Croydon. In fact it had plenty of food outlets and also a space used for different purposes, so the kilo vintage clothes sale was on. In effect pick your vintage clothes, get it weighed, and pay a fixed amount per kilo. Nice and packed too. In fact we liked it here, definitely very urban and bohemian but keeping lots of local styles of food there too - and some ales. It was tempting to stay there for a bit longer!

We did venture into the Morley's department store and The Love quite liked it - it was definitely independent and even had their Christmas decorations display up with the likes of Gisela Graham little things everywhere. Well, if it's good enough for Liberty's! We had a good mooch and then headed back to the train station, the whole time having the brilliant single "Brixton" by Renegade Soundwave in my head, so that's tune of the day (it's also where the title of today's entry comes from, one of the lyrics in case you wondered..)

Later on we settled in, I made us the M&S Dine in for Two (some chicken in a crumb with cheese and leeks, and potato wedges along with some mixed vegetables, and that went down nicely whilst watching Strictly Come Dancing. I have to say that I was mightily pleased that Jonnie Peacock did well, as did Mollie King from the Saturdays too. I had a feeling that Simon Rimmer and the Reverend Richard Coles would be near the bottom though, and The Love commented on how bad they both were!

Friday 6th October - Friday Night Fest

Another Friday night not taking the train anywhere apart from home, second week on the bounce. Of course this is because The Love In My Heart is coming to stay with me tomorrow, and that's always lovely. We've got a chilled weekend planned together, and for me at least it's going to be nice to be here with her - and she gets a lie in this way without Brian the cat purring early in the morning wanting his tummy tickled and a general love and fuss that he so craves, in the nicest way possible.

Work was busy but with that all sorted and some suggestions made to move forward with a couple of things, it was onwards to Tesco in Purley for the shopping. I time it well so that going down there is before the rush hour and the traffic being bad, and by the time I leave to head back home, the traffic going back to Croydon is much less, so works nicely. In fact I managed to get the 405 bus there and back which goes the back way past the bowling club and then over the top by a couple of schools and downhill, which works nicely when going to get a more scenic view rather than straight down the Brighton Road (the A235.)

So shopping was easily sorted really, just getting some bits for me for the week and for The Love and I to have a nice breakfast together on the Sunday, and I also got The Love some shower gel as she had run out here too - plus as the Azera coffee she loves at home is half price, got her a jar too so she can take that home on the Sunday. I did treat myself to the four beers for £6 deal and went all out St Austell ales and Cornish beer, so it was two of the Proper Black and one each of Proper Job and Tribute. Well, it'd be rude not to, to be honest!

It was home in good time for telly and of course Friday night is pretty much all Channel 4 now. The Crystal Maze had an all female team and they were quite good fun, getting a number of crystals along the way and being pretty good at most of the games too, and they got over 50 plus gold tokens at the end for a minor prize. Then it was on with Gogglebox, and they simply had to feature the classic moment from Antiques Road Trip when a £60 little mahogany box was found to contain a miniature camera that went for a mere £20,000 at auction! I bet the seller from the antiques shop was completely gutted. In case you wondered, it's a Chambre Automatique from Auguste Bertsch.

Then of course, The Last Leg, and with Victoria Coren Mitchell and Robert Webb joining in some insights into the week. As usual of course, dealt with in some hilarious fashion but with a serious message within there too. I for one was pleased to see that they had had a little mickey take about the dropping letters from the Conservative Party Conference earlier in the week, and had both Ls from Last Leg missing deliberately. Classic stuff, it really is.

After that I settled in and watched both episodes from this week's Top of the Pops on BBC Four, focussing on 1984 no less. It was good to see some long forgotten classics played on there, including the rather brilliant "Hot Water" by Level 42, the bassline of which provided inspiration for the Martin Galway soundtrack from the game "Comic Bakery" no less, so definitely tune of the day for that reason. And the classic "Big In Japan" from Alphaville, I still absolutely adore that song!

Thursday 5th October - Debating and Dine In

So it was another strike day on Southern today and as such the Thameslink train I often get to work was a little busier than usual, but not massively so (albeit both are effectively part of Govia Thameslink Railway) - and for the fourth day on the bounce, the same train I get in the morning was late. It's been anything from five to twelve minutes late this week without any explanation as to why this is - which really isn't good enough. Passengers should be kept informed, although with this being GTR, their lack of customer service isn't exactly surprising to be perfectly honest.

I have over the last year or so in particular considered whether a move would be an option to try and avoid all the issues that GTR present on a daily basis - not just on a strike day. Random cancellations. Not enough staff employed. Random skipping of stations just to match the PPM targets (which are time based at destinations incidentally.) And of course, the way that an increasing number of trains run where there's no allowance for disabled passengers, particularly mobility impaired, to board. No guard on train, unmanned station, what chace does that passenger have of boarding? None. It's an Equality Act breach every single time and really does need a test court case to show how unfit GTR are to run their services right now.

And on the other side of the coin, there is the fact that I do like where I live, the flat is lovely, and really warm and cosy, I've got shops close by for day to day shopping, I have a brilliant concierge in the block that sorts out all the parcels and post as well as keeping residents informed of things like window cleaning, ongoing maintenance work and so on. I also am well connected for other modes of transport to get to places, so buses and trams as well as two rail stations within walking distance to get me to a number of places should I wish to. So there is that as a flip side of course.

On the way home I headed off to Marks and Spencer in the centre of Croydon as the Dine In For Two offer was back on, and as The Love In My Heart was coming down this weekend, it was a case of it being an offer well worth taking up. I have to say that it was pretty busy in there and it was a case of being able to find the stuff I wanted, including a nice bottle of white wine, and then being able to get it all home and ready for the weekend - one less thing to buy at least and it'll be something we'll enjoy on Saturday night together.

I then settled in to watch England v Slovenia, with the Verve's "Bittersweet Symphony" being the choice of tune as ever (tune of the day) - but dear me, can ITV still not employ anyone else to be co-commentator other than Glenn Hoddle? His boring monologues make you want to fall asleep, and really always seems somewhat negative towards certain players for some reason as well. Granted, he is not as bad as Andy Townsend, but to be brutall honest he's the next worst one by some degree. And dear me, was the first half dull? Absolutely. So boring!

And the second half didn't get any better at all - the only thing that did make the positives was in stoppage time as a Kyle Walker run down the right and excellent cross found Harry Kane who stabbed the ball home past the keeper for 1-0 to England. And with Scotland also beating Slovakia 1-0, England had qualified with a game to spare, and Scotland now need to go to Slovenia on Sunday where a win would see them in the playoffs and second in the group.

Wednesday 4th October - Drama and Burgers

It was definitely dramatic having watched Doctor Foster last night, and not necessarily the ending that many would have thought would have happened. I won't spoil it for you in case you're yet to watch it on catch up, but definitely it was one that not only felt emotional, but also in a way a natural conclusion to the whole series. Although it may have been an open end for another series, I for one hope that they don't make it and end it as is - the best telly has often ended with two series and the focus being quality rather than quantity. In this case it definitely appears to be it.

I did avoid some dramas at work today but on the whole it was pretty busy. In a good way, it also was a positive because I was able to help out and get things sorted - such as one laptop that wasn't playing ball. We found that the onboard network adapter was borked, and so for these purposes we have a USB to Ethernet adapter. Of course there was no option to PXE boot from it, but using a USB stick with the boot image on for SCCM worked really well, and so we were able to get things done that way instead - there's always a way around these things when you think about it enough.

It was a time last night to settle in and watch the first of the new series of The Apprentice, and I have to say, not particularly impressed with the new crop of contestants. It's a case of them being too brash, too loud and in some cases not being able to even work together with major strops happening. The task was to sell burgers on the market or to trade - fair enough to do. One was going to Canary Wharf and sensibly had enough product to cook and sell in the lunch break, and then could at least sell the remainder to traders and the public during the rest of the day.

The other team though spent far too much time faffing around making the burgers, and by the time they had left and arrived in their chosen spot in Brixton, it was 3pm - way too late for any sales really. You've got to be there at the right time and indeed during lunch - the market stalls and where the team was (looked like Pop Brixton to me) was a decent enough location but you had to be there at the right time to get passing trade, especially people who work there and want a different spot of lunch.

It did annoy me somewhat that the boardroom ended up being the usual shouty match with not much shown in the way of maturity or business acumen, instead just wanting to out-shout each other. I personally would have got rid of more than one, first week or not, to send out a statement that such behaviour wouldn't be tolerated. And yet in all this, these are supposed to be some of the best minds in business competing for a £250k investment that you just don't get unless you're prepared to work at it. The theme tune is tune of the day though - even if it technically is just a bit of Profokiev with stuff bookended either side...

Tuesday 3rd October - Working Well and Nocturnal Cats

So it was another busy day at work today, but on the whole a pretty good one. I was due to have three meetings today but this went down to two after one was cancelled, as one of the rooms we proposed to use for the meeting is out of action for the next few weeks whilst we start en masse the rollout of laptops with the Windows 10 upgrade. It made sense therefore to make the use of the time to be able to test out the new Windows PE boot image that I made from the test SCCM system yesterday to see how it would perform and whether it would detect all the network adapters in hardware.

And actually, so far, it did, for everything. I was able to create the ISO image, and burn it to CD as well as also being able to create a bootable USB image for those laptops without a CD drive. I booted to all of them and had a few different models as a test, and they all saw the network adapter and therefore saw the task sequence wizard, which has to be something rather nice actually. It does mean that at least I'll be able to progress things nicely on the Friday when I make the change.

I had a nice chat with The Love In My Heart earlier on and we were talking about Brian the cat, and his seemingly nocturnal ability to spot other animals. It was in the dark outside and apparently one local tabby cat came towards the decking on the outside of the flat - good job there was a fence there otherwise Brian might have fancied scaring the cat off or chasing after it. I do think the tabby cat is being inquisitive and possibly wants some company, but I know what Brian gets like - he goes into a little growler mode and starts growling pretty loud to warn someone off. It may have been another animal he was suitably scaring off this morning apparently.

I must admit as the Autumn comes and the nights come quicker in terms of time, I also know it's going to be even more so when the clocks go back at the end of this month. For me of course this is when Winter kicks in, when the only daylight that you may see is when you're at work, and it's a real sense of making the most of the time you do have in daylight. I'll be doing that on Saturday when The Love In My Heart comes down for the weekned, which I'm really looking forward to.

And something else I'm looking forward to - the finale of Doctor Foster tonight. I know it's going to be pretty dramatic on the whole and it'll also be a case of working out what will happen and how it got to that point. The theme tune is tune of the day and I must admit that it's been the best thing on telly this year - full of tension, deceit, betrayal and yet more tension. Suranne Jones has been superb in this, she really has, and I'm sure it'll be a talking point amongst some of us at work tomorrow...

Monday 2nd October - Intuition and Evacuation

It was a positive morning and day all told at work today, not least as the now calm head I have these days means that I was able to look at a situation we had at the start of the laptop rollout and be able to offer a sensible suggestion and resolution moving ahead. This worked really well and it was nice that the colleague who was also in one of our meetings gave me some nice praise for being able to get things sorted so quickly. That admittedly did make my day nicely as it meant that I was able to park that and get on with plenty of other stuff.

One thing I've been checking over is the revised Windows PE image that comes with Windows ADK 1607. The good news is that it looks like the majority of drivers present should serve all the network and storage adapters we have across the desktop and laptop estate, and if need be, I can always add them back in at a later date if need be if something fails. On the whole though what this does mean is that I can plan ahead with the planned change for Friday and set to work on what I want to do, so definitely a good thing.

I was at home later and I'd heard locally that East Croydon station had been evacuated due to a suspicious package being left on one of the platforms. With the recent incident at Parsons Green tube station and the Las Vegas attack overnight, the British Transport Police were taking no chances, closing off the station and getting everyone out. Trains weren't moving, and the flats which are close by to the stations were all evacuated too, so definitely not taking no chances either.

Thankfully later on it looked like the package wasn't as bad as first feared, but understandable to be cautious rather than assume and it all go wrong. It did make me wonder who would be so careless as to leave stuff behind, especially as in this day and age we all have to be vigilant and make sure we report what we don't think looks right. It was a double irony for those who may have been coming back from Gatwick after the bad news this morning about Monarch going bump and that all future flights were cancelled, with alternative flights provided to get people homewards.

I had another mooch through the Rare Record Price Guide 2018 as well, checking over some of my vinyl albums tonight. One thing's for certain: a number of progressive rock labels have had albums on said labels sky rocket, especially the likes of spiral Vertigo label, Harvest label (notably for some albums if the green centres don't have the EMI label as part of it) and so on. So if you have some of those in decent condition, hang on to them and get the corresponding CD / MP3 version of the album to keep your vinyl in lovely condition. One track from one of those albums, the ace "Shoot Her If She Runs" by Climax Chicago, is tune of the day.

Sunday 1st October - Vinyl Valuation

I got up early primarily as I wanted to watch the live F1 race from Malaysia, the final time that this place would host it. I had some coffee and breakfast ready and watched a rather enjoyable race on the whole, with Max Verstappen doing the business - getting past Lewis Hamilton and staying there comfortably. Sebastian Vettel charged through the field from the back, and got all the way to 4th and challenged Daniel Ricciardo, but his super soft tyres went away and the Aussie stayed in third, and he loved that. Props too to Stoffel Vandoorne for the second 7th place on the trot in the vastly crap McLaren Honda - he really drove the wheels off that pile of junk. I'm so glad McLaren have seen sense and are getting a different engine supplier next year.

Yesterday my Rare Record Price Guide 2018 arrived whilst I was out, and so today I decided to spend some time checking over the rare items in my music collection. Before that though I decided to head into Camden and check a couple of the record shops there, not least because they're always good to browse in. The train from East Croydon was packed as plenty of people were off to Wembley to see the American football, which of course meant that the Victoria line was also busy too. I changed for the Northern Line at Euston and headed off to Camden Town station, where the exit system was in place to stop crowding.

I had a walk to a couple of record shops, and in one of them I saw a really nice copy of John Keating's "The Space Experience" on quadrophonic strereo no less. It wasn't cheap, but for a Commodore 64 fan, also a must at some point - as two tracks on there were effectively covered by Rob Hubbard for the game Warhawk. I had a check of my price guide later, and the record was priced bang on the guide price - interestingly, it's worth a bit more because it's on quad stereo rather than standard, so well worth noting if you happen to spot a copy yourself of course.

I also noted that the Camden markets were as busy as ever, and they really seemed to be offering all sorts. It was very busy though so I decided just to concentrate omn the record stalls and have a mooch there - nothing jumped out at me per se, but all good stuff to get hold of nonetheless, and certainly if you're starting a vinyl collection, I can highly recommend Out on the Floor on Inverness Street. Shame that Music and Video Exchange isn't here anymore though - made a note so would need to go to Notting Hill Gate or Greenwich instead mind you.

The rain had started to come down a touch so walked up to Chalk Farm tube, and from there changed at Euston to get the Victoria Line and train back homeward, where I spent the afternoon relaxed and watching the American football game on BBC Two, which admittedly was pretty dull to say the least till the second half. I did keep an eye on the football scores though and it was noticeable that Burnley had won at Everton and were doing a really good job away from home, they're up to sixth now.

So I spent some time checking through my Rare Record Price Guide, and interesting to note that vinyl particularly is on the up, and the line between mint and other conditions appears to be a greater gap. It's worth noting too that the prices in the guide are for mint, so gives you a starting point to work from. I have both New Order CD Video singles, and both of those have at least retained the previous guide price (one of which has gone up) - and some other early 12" singles I have are generally holding value nicely.

Surprisingly one of the singles I have by The Fall, the 10" single of "15 Ways" on clear vinyl is in the guide and at a decent value too. I must admit part of me getting that though was for one of the B-sides, "Hey Student" which is classic Mark E Smith vocals at its finest, so tune of the day - and definitely one which is pretty apt considering the students are all back at their Universities now. Of course nothing ever beats surreal as Mark E Smith reading out the football scores as he did once...